KUAD Box Score, Recap, Quotes, Notes, Video
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If this is what November looks like, we could be in for a heckuva basketball season. The Spartans and Jayhawks, two teams that match up almost equally strength to strength, put on a highly entertaining, high-intensity game to open the Champions Classic.
In fact, if we can restage this sort of game -- insert whatever participants you’d like -- in the last weekend of the season, that would be just fine. Seriously. This was March Madness good.
…Both Kansas and Michigan State have a habit of getting better as the season progresses. If that’s true, watch out.
…In a solidly played game, Kansas freshman Jamari Traylor got the oh-my-goodness moment, throwing down a monster jam that elicited a collective "Oh!" from the Georgia Dome crowd.
ESPN Rapid Reaction
When the ball left his fingertips, Travis Releford said it felt good. He was standing near the wing, watching as the three-pointer floated toward the basket.
Kansas trailed Michigan State by just three points in the final seconds of the Champions Classic on Tuesday night, and the Jayhawks needed a basket. So KU coach Bill Self had called an old favorite — the Jayhawks’ familiar “chop play” — where a guard takes a handoff on the wing and moves toward the top of the key.
“That’s worked a couple of times in the past,” Self said.
…“Somebody’s gonna lose,” Self said. “And if you look at it, I thought we were pretty good for 35 minutes. I thought we actually played as good as I thought we were gonna play …
“It’s just that, games are decided in the last 5.”
...It’s worth noting that in nearly five months, college basketball will reconvene in the Georgia Dome for the Final Four in early April. This Kansas team, of course, would like to believe it has the talent and experience to get back here. But for now, that feels a long ways away.
Kansas finished with 16 turnovers and just eight assists. Johnson had a game-high 16 points — but needed 15 shots to get them. And Kansas’ freshmen, including forward Perry Ellis, appeared slightly overwhelmed by the atmosphere.
“Our freshman are gonna be good, but they’re pretty green and naïve,” Self said. “They’re not the typical heralded freshmen that have had a lot of exposure and are worldly.”
...KU’s seniors will have to continue to mature as well. That’s a given. And as Releford left the Georgia Dome on Tuesday night, he was left with that thought. Senior center Withey had eight points and four turnovers while playing through early foul trouble. And all of KU’s seniors, Releford said, should have made more plays in the final minutes.
“So, we can just blame ourselves, the upperclassmen,” Releford said, “because the underclassmen, they did all they could.”
Releford wasn’t supposed to be the one to wind up with the ball in his hands, but Kansas coach Bill Self wasn’t disappointed with the shot he took.
On the final play, Self wanted the senior guard Elijah Johnson to try and make a quick drive to the lane for a two-point basket to prevent the Spartans from fouling them before they could get a shot off.
After the quick two didn’t materialize, Johnson had a chance to take the three-point shot to try and tie the game because of Michigan State defense’s mix-up. Its 270-pound center Derrick Nix found himself guarding Johnson at the top of the arc.
But Johnson didn’t shoot it.
“It was really take the first available open shot that we could,” Johnson said. “I put that all on me. I think that I could’ve made a better decision then that. And that time, coach put the ball in my hands to make the play and I felt like I didn’t do a great job at it.”
Freshman guard Ben McLemore, who showed no fear for the majority of his first big-time game by scoring 14 points on the night, showed his youth on the final play.
McLemore didn’t come off a screen the way Self wanted him to, and ended up in a different position than the play that Self drew up. The Jayhawks found themselves behind after watching their five-point lead with less then five minutes to play evaporate as Michigan State guard Keith Appling finished off the Spartan charge.
“I told Elijah to go under the ball screen one time, and Jeff didn’t really hedge him to make him change directions and he just stopped and made a three,” Self said. “That was probably the biggest shot of the game other than his drive there late.”
Self was OK with the last possession, but not the Jayhawks’ execution the final five minutes.
KU, which had a game-high lead of seven points with 12 minutes left, led 59-54 with five minutes to play. Michigan State outscored KU, 13-5, the rest of the game.
“We didn’t run offense down the stretch. Our spacing stunk the last seven, eight minutes,” Self said. “I thought we executed our offense better than we have all year long for about 30 minutes. I thought we got the ball where we wanted to get it. We missed a lot of bunnies, too. Jamari (Traylor, six points, four rebounds, 25 minutes) missed an uncontested lay-up midway through the second half. He’s never been in (those) situations. He’s going to have to learn to plug himself into the game, and we have to do a better job. There were a lot of things that weren’t very good. I think it’ll be a good teaching tool for us.”
Kansas University red-shirt freshman forward Jamari Traylor had a vicious one-handed put-back dunk of an Elijah Johnson miss, took a charge and had three blocked shots in the Jayhawks’ 67-64 loss to Michigan State on Tuesday in the Georgia Dome.
He certainly held his own against Michigan State bruisers Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne.
“They were very physical, just like anybody else really,” Traylor said after scoring six points with four rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes. “That is definitely a game I think we should have won. The last four minutes, things didn’t go our way.
“Physically I guess I could go against anybody,” added the 6-8 Traylor, who battled 6-9 senior Nix and 6-10 junior Payne. “I went against Thomas (Robinson) every day for a whole year. That was nothing new (vs. MSU), just regular I guess.”
Dribbling left from the right wide post, completely under control as if playing another high school game en route to his four consecutive Kansas state championships, Kansas University forward Perry Ellis ever-so-smoothly executed a spin move and went in for an easy bucket on the right side of the hoop early in the opening minutes.
Rare is the freshman who can make such a smooth move on such a big stage against such a good team. Michigan State, a perennial powerhouse that bruises its way to Big Ten championships and Final Four runs under feisty coach Tom Izzo, won the game, 67-64, Tuesday night.
As the opener of a heavyweight doubleheader in the Georgia Dome progressed, the reality that playing college basketball in the paint requires so much more than skill settled in on Ellis, who watched more of the game than he played. That won’t happen often during his Kansas career.
…“I thought Jamari was much more aggressive,” Self said. “Perry’s going to be a good player, but everything’s a finesse deal right now. And it’s not his fault. Michigan State’s not the best team to be finesse with.”
And then there is the most talented member of the team. Red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore blends a soft shooting touch with kiss-the-Dome-ceiling athleticism, but in a different way than Ellis, must become more assertive.
“He needs to figure out how to put himself in the game where he’s more of an impact guy,” Self said of McLemore, who scored 14 points and made five of seven field-goal attempts. “The guy’s a pretty efficient player, but seven shots is not enough for him. He’s so talented, but he’s got a lot to learn. It’s going to take awhile, but he’ll get it. ... I thought Ben was pretty good early. He lost all aggressiveness late.”
The ESPN Tip-Off Marathon concludes with the marquee Champions Classic, a doubleheader in Atlanta featuring Kansas-Michigan State and Kentucky-Duke. With that in mind, we asked two of our writers to pick which one of those has the best chance to return to Atlanta for the Final Four.
Andy Katz: Kansas
Jason King: Kentucky
Kansas senior Jeff Withey and freshman Ben McLemore have been named to the 2012-13 Naismith early season watch list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday.
The 50-player watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2012-2013 college basketball season. The Naismith Men's College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 7, 2013 in Atlanta.
Withey continues to pile up preseason accolades. Last week the 7-foot center from San Diego was named to the Wooden preseason top 50 with senior teammate Elijah Johnson. Withey has also been selected Associated Press Preseason All-America Honorable Mention, is a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award and was voted onto the All-Big 12 preseason team by the conference coaches.
Just from personal interviews this year, my All-Quote team (best talkers) includes Solomon Hill, Elijah Johnson, Alex Oriakhi. 2 slots left.
Catching up with Michael Lee
Darrell Arthur (fractured leg) went through full-contact practice on Tuesday, but there is no timetable for his return to the rotation.
It might be a relief to see Suns power forward Markieff Morris’ shots start falling but the real pleasure for the Suns staff had to be seeing how involved Morris became in several phases of Monday night’s win against Denver.
Morris hit key shots but he also made one of the game’s best passes at a key time and came up with the steal that was the final blow to knock out Denver’s four-game winning streak.
"I just had to play as hard as possible and get over the hump," Morris said.
Big Three? Check. Ray Allen? A perennial nominee. Shane Battier? A nice touch. Mario Chalmers? Just can seem to catch a break.
Five players from the Heat are on the NBA All-Star ballot released Tuesday by the league.
That's four starters (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Battier) plus Allen.
The fifth starter? That would be Chalmers, who not only was a significant contributor during the Heat's championship run last season but was a significant contributor during the 2012 NBA Finals.
So if not Mario than who?
Among the 24 Eastern Conference guards listed on the ballot are Gerald Henderson, Jeff Teague, Kemba Walker, Arron Afflalo . . . and no Mario.
WBB: Jayhawks vs SEMO pregame notes
Kansas 2012-13 MBB Schedule
Kansas 2012-13 WBB Schedule
Big 12/College News
2012-13 Early Season Events List
It started off like a typical, boring halftime interview, before Calipari provided us with a money quote.
"Post defense is hurting us, and then some threes," Calipari started. "But for us to be in this situation, I'm going to be honest, I'm happy. We got in a little bit of foul trouble but not much."
Then Katz interrupted, asking "Why?"
"We're still...We've got...they're flopping all over the place. In the NBA, they'd all be suspended."
Yep, he said that. Calipari wasn't about to tiptoe around the always-contentious issue of charge/block calls.
After Duke beat Kentucky 75-68, Calipari shrugged off the comments, telling reporters, "It was a joke. You guys at Duke can take a joke, right?"
…Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski disagreed with Calipari's "flopping" suggestion when he was interviewed after the game.
"I thought we took some amazing charges and probably could have taken a few more," he told reporters. "There's a difference between a charge and a flop. A flop means you don't take any contact.
"We don't make any money so we can't be fined. I would hope that anybody who watches the game would say that our kids played outstanding defense."
Everyone knew his nickname, and everyone was aware of him when he was in the arena courtside.
Kenny Williamson, nicknamed "Eggman," was one of basketball's great characters.
He died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. The Memphis Grizzlies assistant general manager touched hundreds -- if not many, many more -- in the NBA, college and high school basketball communities.
When his death was reported, it made people from across the country pause. Coaches such as KU's Bill Self and staff members Norm Roberts and Doc Sadler, as well as Kentucky's John Calipari, knew him well. They were all saddened by the news.
The NCAA deemed UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad ineligible just hours prior to the Bruins season-opener on Friday night and now the family has released a statement regarding its displeasure and frustration with the organization:
"Shabazz's family is very distressed by the NCAA's recent decision and the manner in which it was announced. Shabazz and his family have been cooperating with the NCAA for well over a year. Earlier this year, the NCAA asked Shabazz and his family not to reveal to each other or to the press facts related to the NCAA investigation. Despite the many untrue rumors which were circulating on the Internet, Shabazz and his family dutifully did what they were told. In order to entice Shabazz's family and others to cooperate, the NCAA repeatedly gave assurances that it would keep details of the investigation strictly confidential. As recently as November 2012, the NCAA promised that it would not issue a Press Release.
"Last Friday, the NCAA released a Press Release which not only was wrong in its conclusions but which also inaccurately portrayed the investigation process in this case. For over a year, the NCAA has known all of the relevant facts related to its ruling last Friday. Prior to the unofficial visits in question, Ron Holmes and Ben Lincoln received approval from NCAA (through its member universities) for Mr. Lincoln (who has had a continuous close friendship with Shabazz's family since 2007) to pay for airline tickets and hotel rooms. In 2010, Mr. Holmes openly and honestly revealed to the NCAA the source of the payments on the NCAA's compliance form. Shabazz's family is now faced with the situation where they are concerned that any attempt to tell more of their side of the story will result in further punitive action, as Shabazz is still under the mercy of the NCAA. Shabazz and his family will continue to honestly cooperate with the NCAA in the hopes that Shabazz soon will be allowed to play basketball at UCLA."
The latest college basketball player snared in the increasingly nebulous web of NCAA “impermissible benefits” is heralded San Diego State freshman Winston Shepard.
The 6-foot-8 forward has been provisionally suspended three games and sat out Tuesday night’s home opener against San Diego Christian while SDSU waits for the NCAA to rule on its appeal.
A brief release by SDSU’s athletic department said: “The penalty is a result of Shepard inadvertently violating an NCAA rule. Upon becoming aware of the situation, the San Diego State coaching staff immediately reported the situation to the compliance staff, which self-reported the issue to the NCAA.”
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher declined to discuss the suspension's particulars, other than to say: “This is ongoing. We’ve known about it for a long time.”
USA Basketball remains in qualified and competent hands at the top.
Jerry Colangelo on Tuesday was re-elected chairman of USA Basketball's board of directors for 2013 to 2016, a period which includes the 2014 men's FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and women's World Cup in Turkey and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Big 12 Composite Schedule
Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute talks about Basketball Without Borders and mentoring Joel-hans Embiid (1:10)
Conner Frankamp @CFrankamp_23
S/O to @jojo_embiid for committing to KU! Best recruiting class in the country! #RockChalk
Brannen Greene (@b_greene14)
11/13/12, 3:10 PM
@jojo_embiid congrats jojo!!
Welcome to the family big dawg @jojo_embiid !! #KUCMB
Another big score for Kansas with Joel Embiid. Conservatively speaking, he'll end up in at least the top 35-50 range.
More @ebosshoops on Embiid: "I have had coaches from 3 diff. schools now tell me they're convinced he's going to be in the NBA in 3 yrs."
Joel Embiid will be in our Top 100 in January. IMO, he's the equivalent of a Top 20 commitment.
Kansas won a significant recruiting battle, receiving a verbal commitment from four-star center Joel Embiid (Cameroon/The Rock). Bill Self's program edged out Florida and Texas for Embiid's commitment, which he announced Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the early signing period was to begin.
Embiid, a 6-foot-11 native of Cameroon, is not currently in the ESPN 100, but will make his debut in January when the rankings are re-evaluated after the summer he had. New to basketball, Embiid was learning the ropes before emerging late in the summer and then showing well in front of college coaches in the fall. It's reasonable to consider him a top-20-level recruit.
Embiid's commitment moves Kansas' Class of 2013 to second behind Kentucky.
…When I was visiting schools I wanted to go and see what they got," Embiid said. "After my visit I knew that Kansas was good. Luc talked to some people in the NBA and they said that the player development was good at Kansas."
The "Luc" Embiid referred to is Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Also a native of Cameroon, Mbah a Moute served as a mentor to Embiid once the center graduated from the "Basketball Without Borders" program. In the end, it came down to player development.
"For me, it was the first thing," Embiid said. "It's not about playing time. I'll get playing time if I'm ready. The first thing was the development. After looking and seeing what they've done I think Kansas is the best fit for me."
Embiid will sign his letter-of-intent during a Thursday ceremony at his high school. He announced his intentions to the world at 11 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, typing the words “Proud to be a Jayhawk” on Twitter.
Embiid’s commitment came a day before today’s start of the weeklong early-signing period. The Jayhawks’ recruiting class, which is ranked second nationally (behind Kentucky) by ESPN, consists of big man Embiid, plus Conner Frankamp, 6-foot, 160, Wichita North; Brannen Greene, 6-7, 200, Tift County High, Tifton, Ga.; Frank Mason, 5-11, 160, Massanutten Military Academy, Petersburg, Va.; and Wayne Selden, 6-5, 225, Tilton (N.H.) School. Greene is ranked No. 24 by Rivals.com, Selden No. 25, Frankamp No. 30 and Mason No. 133.
…The Rock coach Justin Harden said Tuesday: “I definitely think that Joel has every ounce of potential of what the experts say he has. When you hear Bill Self, Billy Donovan (Florida), Buzz Williams (Marquette) and other guys get excited about him, these are guys that have obviously sent players to the NBA. I’m talking about first-round picks and top draft picks, and they get excited and tell you that he can play in the NBA.
“I really believe that Joel has that potential. He can go to any school and make it to the NBA, probably, but it’s a matter of, his hard work is what’s going to determine whether or not he actually makes it to the NBA. He’s got a great coach in Bill Self, along with the rest of the staff,” Harden added, noting KU aide Norm Roberts did a great job recruiting Embiid.
“His offense is actually pretty good,” Bossi said. “He’s still a little bit raw, but he’s got good feet; he can shoot the ball really well; he’s got soft touch. He’s got a really nice spin move, that he can score going to his left or his right shoulder.”
According to Harden, Embiid’s father was a professional team handball player back in Cameroon. He also played volleyball, and some of the skills have apparently transferred over.
“He’s a really nice kid off the court,” Harden said. “On the court, he can be really nasty, which is good.”
Embiid, who is still mastering the English language, took a trip to Late Night in the Phog last month. That, along with a comfortable relationship with KU assistant Norm Roberts, helped close the deal, according to Harden.
“I also think that the tradition and prestige of Kansas was pretty influential,” Harden said.
He’s scheduled to sign a national letter of intent at a ceremony on Thursday, and his addition gives Self and KU one of the top recruiting classes in the country. KU has commitments from Wichita guard Conner Frankamp (No. 31, according to Rivals.com); Georgia swingman Brannen Greene (No. 25); Tilton prep (N.H.) guard Wayne Selden (No. 26); and Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) point guard Frank Mason (No. 134).
“It's bittersweet,” The Rock coach Justin Harden said. “We would have loved for him to stay in Gainesville, but he's going to one of the top five programs in the country.”
Harden said the 6-foot-11 Embiid made his decision over the weekend. He will sign his letter of intent Thursday in a ceremony at The Rock School.
“Billy (Donovan) and his staff did everything they could to try to get him,” Harden said. “It was nothing that they didn't do. It came down to the last weekend. He just felt like Kansas was the best fit for him.”
Embiid, a Cameroon native, burst onto the scene this past summer, while playing with Florida Elite on the AAU circuit. He made plays on the defensive end, ran the floor, and finished plays around the rim. He's certainly still raw offensively, but he has very, very high ceiling.
As a result, he was one of the most talked-about big men during July.
“He's got untapped potential,” an assistant coach said at the time. “In two years, he's going to be really good for somebody.”
That “somebody” is going to be Kansas, which beat out Florida and Texas for Embiid's services. The Jayhawks made up plenty of ground during the latter part of Embiid's recruitment, as it seemed the in-state Gators had the edge for most of the past couple of months.
The last time he had a national audience, center Joel Embiid (Cameroon/The Rock) was on the wrong side of a clinic at the hands of Brandon Ashley. Then a junior center for Montverde, Embiid was given the unenviable task of trying to slow down a grooving Ashley. He didn’t and Montverde succumbed to Findlay Prep in the NHSI championship.
A lot has changed since last March.
…“He is a surprise to me and a pleasant one at that,” The Rock coach Justin Harden said. “He’s every bit of 6-11. He can do a lot of good things with the ball. He’s only been playing 18 months. Was a volleyball player before that.”
Read the last two lines carefully. Embiid used to play more volleyball than hoops and is only 18 months into his basketball career. Gill Grissom doesn’t miss clues like that and neither should we.
“At 6-11, he’s got an effortless shot,” Harden said. “He’s a long-term stock. With what he’s been able to do in 18 months in terms of skill development (it’s impressive). Once he gets consistent weight training the sky is the limit.”
Last season, Embiid had trouble understanding English. Basketball terminology was likely more foreign than the actual English language. At the time of the schooling at the hands of Ashley, Embiid looked like a deer in headlights. However, go back and look at the tape of the game that was on ESPN and you’ll notice he was a long, lean potential guy. That much we acknowledged. After last summer, he’s got everyone’s attention.
…You might not know much about Embiid right now, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
ESPN Telep in September on Embiid
KU commit Brannen Greene, a 6-7, 207-pound wing from Tift County High in Tifton, Ga., who had basketball practice scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m., local time, Tuesday, couldn’t make it to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome to watch his future school play Michigan State.
“It’s a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive,” Greene told the Journal-World, “but it’s great they are here in the state. If they make it to the Final Four, I’ll be on it,” he added.
The 2013 Final Four will also be held at the Georgia Dome.
“My goal is to win a state championship,” said Greene, who averaged 24.5 points and 14 rebounds a game last season for Mary Persons High in Forsyth, Ga., moving over to Tift County this year.
Of Wednesday’s signing day ceremony at his school, he said: “I knew I wanted to go to KU at the time (when he committed in December) and I still know I want to go there. I haven’t wavered off of that.”
Aaron Harrison knows there’s a possibility people “will read too much” into the fact he and his twin brother, Andrew, are going to wait and sign with Kentucky during the NCAA’s late signing period in April.
“People will probably run with that, but it doesn’t mean anything,” said Aaron, a senior shooting guard at Travis (Richmond, Texas) who, along with Andrew, is a consensus top-five player in the country. “We’re just making sure everything stays the same with coaching and things like that. Just a precaution, I’d say. We won’t be changing our minds, though. Not going through that again.”
That completely kills the popular theory that elite players purposely wait to sign during the late period to capitalize on the heightened attention from coaches and media.
A “crazy” notion, according to Julius Randle, the No. 2 player in the Rivals150 who has yet to commit to a school. Last season, four of the top 10 players in the Rivals150 signed late.
Here are what some players say are the top five reasons it’s better to sign early:
• 5. Relieves stress. Says Nate Britt of Oak Hill, Va. Academy, who’s signing with North Carolina: “The whole process is the most stressful thing that you can go through. It’s really crazy having to answer a bunch of questions every day about whether you’re firmly committed to your school or where you’re going.”
• 4. Gives you your life back.Says Brannen Greene, a small forward at Tift County (Tifton, Ga.) who’s signing with Kansas: “It allows me to completely focus, because it’s an official end to the recruiting process. I can just be a regular high school kid again. That’s the best part.”
• 3. Gives credibility with other recruits. Says Troy Williams, a small forward at Oak Hill Academy who’s signing with Indiana: “Other players want to be sure you’re gonna be there when you’re talking to them.”
• 2. Improves your game. Says Kasey Hill, a point guard at Montverde (Fla.) Academy who’s signing with Florida: “The biggest thing is that getting this out of the way helps you concentrate on your game more and getting better. It’s like a stress reliever, too.”
• 1. Stops other coaches from recruiting you. Says Wayne Selden, a small forward at Tilton (N.H.) School who’s signing with Kansas: “It feels great to know that the only coaches who will be contacting you will be your soon-to-be coaches.”
At 6 feet 2, 175 pounds, Jones doesn't look like he could carry the University of Minnesota basketball program on his back, making the Gophers instant Big Ten title contenders. But scouts marveled when Jones was in eighth grade that his basketball IQ and passing skills were already college-level.
"He's not Chris Paul, but he's the closest high school point guard to Paul I've seen," ESPN recruiting expert Dave Telep told the Pioneer Press. "I'm sure Tubby Smith wants to win in the worst way. He wants to be able to counter the arguments that other schools are going to have with their tradition and their recent success. Tyus Jones is going to be recruited to be the final piece to make a national championship run for another team. That's the one thing Tubby Smith is up against."
…Jones, who attended the Gophers' opening exhibition game against Minnesota State Mankato, is still giving Smith a chance.
"They're a school I'm really considering," Jones told the Pioneer Press last week. "I liked what I saw. I think they played very well. They go inside to their bigs, especially going high-low. That was good to see. They had great ball pressure. It was just good overall team defense. (Point guard Andre Hollins) made big strides at the end of last year with his play. That was good to see. He should have a big year for them this year."
Jones recently narrowed his list to eight schools (in no particular order): Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio State, Baylor, North Carolina and Kansas. That the Gophers are still there isn't too surprising since they're the home-state school.
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